Veterinary college accreditation and the AVMA Council on Education
There is no doubt about the high quality of veterinary education in the United States and Canada, a standard that many other countries seek to emulate. But, this high level of quality did not happen by accident. The AVMA Council on Education (COE) is recognized by the US Department of Education as the agency responsible for accrediting professional veterinary degree programs in the United States and goes to great lengths to ensure that the veterinary colleges it accredits adhere to the highest possible educational and professional standards. I know from personal experience how rigorous the COE accreditation process is.
Securing the veterinary profession's future requires different thinking. We must adapt to meet society's needs and expectations, for we cannot expect that society will adapt itself to us. The stakes are high. If we do not respond satisfactorily, we will easily be forgotten in the fierce competition for public support.
This poses a challenge to the accreditation process, in that professional degree program accreditors tend to be viewed as conservative, requiring strict adherence to prescribed accreditation criteria. In truth, however, the COE has recognized that many diverse college structures and academic programs can be successful in training well-qualified, entry-level veterinarians and grants veterinary colleges the freedom to implement curricular innovations that will enhance that training. Over the years, this freedom to implement curricular innovations has been a critical factor in the success of veterinary education in North America, for which the COE deserves a substantial portion of the credit.
The US Department of Education will be soliciting public comment on COE accreditation of US veterinary colleges later this year. I believe that, as veterinarians, we have a duty to respond and that, in responding, we should support the COE in its efforts to strengthen our system of veterinary education while fostering continuous improvement. The COE has served us well in the past and will continue to serve us well into the future.
Peter Eyre, dvm&s, bvms, bsc, phd